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Jazz musician Jaco Pastorius dies Print-ready version

United Press International
September 22, 1987

Jazz musician Jaco Pastorius, former bass guitarist with Weather Report, Blood, Sweat and Tears and other big-name musical groups, died from injuries he received in a beating. He was 35.

Police said the troubled Pastorius, who recently had been living on the streets, was beaten Sept. 12 when he tried to enter an after-hours club known as Midnight. Pastorius had been banned from the club because of erratic behavior in recent years, police said.

Officials said Pastorius reportedly started kicking the door of the club and manager Luc Havan beat Pastorius, injuring him critically. Havan has been charged wih aggravated battery.

Pastorius spent his last few years living on the street but in the late 1970s and early 1980s, his rapid-fire fingering techniques and composing talent brought him a reputation as one of the top jazz bass players in the world.

In addition to Blood, Sweat and Tears, he toured with Herbie Hancock, Joni Mitchell and Weather Report and was nominated for three Grammys.

In the 1970s Pastorius, a self-taught musician, joined a musical group called the Las Olas Brass, replacing the bass player. Friends agree that Pastorius avoided drugs and alcohol at the time. University of Miami jazz teacher Whit Sidener, who played saxophone with Pastorius during that decade, said Pastorius was "clean-living."

"He would just laugh at people who drank," said guitarist Randy Bernsen, a longtime friend of the musician.

But police said several south Florida bars had banned Pastorius because of drunken, distruptive behavior.

"What happened, I guess only Jaco knows," his brother Gregory said last week.

Pastorius pleaded guilty in 1982 to resisting a Pompano Beach police officer with violence, and was the subject of stories in 1984 of drunkenness and street living in New York. He was divorced from his wife in 1985.

Gregory Pastorius said his brother had been diagnosed by a doctor as a manic depressive and that alcohol abuse made the disorder worse.

Several incidents followed. He reportedly slept in a park, was arrested for several times for drunken driving or driving without a license, breaking into an unoccupied park and driving a stolen car around the running track of a park.

On Sept. 11, Pastorius jumped onto a theater stage during a performance by Carlos Santana and had to be removed. Later that night he received the beating that eventually killed him.

John Francis Pastorius III was born Dec. 1, 1951, in Pennsylvania. His family, who nicknamed him "Jocko," moved to Fort Lauderdale in 1959.

After graduating from high school in 1969, Pastorius began appearing in nightclubs around south Florida with such bands as Wayne Cochran and the C.C. Riders and the Peter Graves Orchestra. He later changed the spelling of his name to Jaco for unknown reasons, his family said.

"Jocko was always on the go," Gregory said. "Whatever it was, he excelled at."

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Added to Library on October 3, 2003. (18074)


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